3D Printing Tips for beginners - Introduction
3D Printing is a wide world of technological processes aiming to build 3D models using different technologies. Our main focus in this article will be FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) 3D printing which consists of using thermoplastic materials, which are basically filament of material melted, deposited, and cooled to form the desired shape by adding layers on top of each other.
FDM 3D printing is generally used as a rapid way of prototyping and testing designs before moving to the manufacturing stage.
As a beginner, which printer should you go for?
This question is one of the first questions someone looking to jump into 3D printing asks. The market is filled with tons of cheap 3D printers that can be used. From our experience as a 3D printing service company, we suggest the Creality brand as a general and Ender 3 model as specific for beginners. It is an easy-to-use 3D printer and comes with all that is needed to start the process and learn your way up. It has a good build volume in which you can print small or medium parts.
Anatomy of a 3D Printer
First, we should mention that conventional 3D printers perform movements in three axes X, Y, and Z. The X and Y for left, right, forward, and backward movements and Z for vertical movements.
Now, let's learn about the main parts of a 3D printer.
Build Platform: The build platform is the surface on which the 3D models are built. Most of the platforms are heated for better first-layer adhesion.
Print Head or Hotend: The hotend is the part responsible for melting and depositing the filament to build the model. It is made of two subcomponents: the hot end and the cold end. The hot end contains a heater and a nozzle which deposits the molten filament while the cold end consists of a motor, drive gear and other components which pushes the filament into the hot end to be melted. Between the hot and cold end lies a heatsink and a fan to keep the cold end cold to avoid clogging. In addition, there is another fan responsible for cooling the melted filament after it is deposited on the build platform which is called the cooling fan.
Print Head: A print head can have one or more extruders on it and on the top of it there is a tube that feeds the filament into it.
Control Interface: On some printers a control interface consists of a screen and a rotary switch with a click and others of a touch screen from which you can control the printer from selectring the files to starting prints and controlling the movement.
How a 3D printer works
Once you send the file to the printer and you start the print, the nozzle and the bed heats up to the chosen temperatures. When reached, the print head lowers down to the platform and start depositing molten filament which cools and harden after a short time from exiting the nozzle thanks to the cooling fan. Filament is deposited one layer at a time and after completing each layer, the head moves up by a tiny bit in the z axis and this process is repeated till the part is completed.
3D Printing Tips for beginners - Bed Leveling
Bed leveling is an important step to get you started with your printer, because it would mean a better first layer adhesion which leads to a successful print. Most beginners buy 3D printers that need manual bed leveling which is a better option than having auto-leveling (as a beginner) because it will give you the experience you need and put you on the right way to becoming an expert. Later on in your printing life, you can start using machines with auto-leveling if you decide to buy any.
Bed leveling needs 3 points to be done and many printers have just 3 but also a big number of printers uses 4 points. In the below, we will show you the steps that should be done for a 4 points level printer.
- Get a piece of A4 paper. The mostly used one has a 0.1mm thickness which is what we need for our task.
- Tighten the 4 screws. You do not need to go to the end but you should see some distance between the nozzle and the bed.
- Place the piece of paper between the nozzle and the bed and start unscrewing the first corner a little bit. Do this step for the 4 corners one after the other until you reach a point where you feel the piece of paper is a bit hard to pull from under the nozzle. This should be for all 4 corners.
Here it is! You have your bed leveled and now you can start printing.
3D Printing Tips for beginners - Changing Filament
It would be a dream to have a printer for which you don’t need to change the filament but no let’s put our feet on the ground and not hope for the impossible! As you know an FDM (short for Fused Deposition Modeling) 3D printer uses something called filament which comes in spools of mostly 1kg or 0.5kg and changing filament is a task that you must do from time to time when the spool runs out.
The below presents the steps that should be considered in order to change filament the right way:
- Start by heating up the nozzle to the temperature specified for the material you are using. If you are using PLA then set the temperature nozzle to 200°C or so.
- Once the temperature is reached, start by pressing the lever, as shown in the picture above, to release the tension from the filament and push the filament in until you see the melted material going out of the nozzle.
- Once it comes out, pull it gently to remove it from the hole.
- There will be some leftover so if you are changing filament to lighter color either push the new filament manually for sometimes or from the screen commands until you see the color of the new filament going out of the nozzle cleanly. If you are changing to a new material, set the temperature to the one that is higher before inserting it.
Now you are all set and you can start printing.